This year Oxonmoot was held in St Hilda's College for the first time, after several years in north Oxford colleges. St Hilda's is situated on the bank of the Cherwell a short way below Magdalen Bridge. The new building where I stayed was superior even to the new buildings in St Hugh's and St Anthony's colleges. The main hall was used for the bar, the Friday evening meal, and the Saturday evening party. Some parts of the college were confusing to people new to the college (the Oxford Tolkien Society used to meet in the college, so I know it quite well), but the rooms used all seemed to be in good condition, and suited Oxonmoot well from what I noticed (the organisers may have different opinions, but I didn't hear any).
The extra day at last year's Oxonmoot was most welcome, and this time seemed short in comparison. But it stood up well against previous ones.
On Friday I turned up around 5.00 pm and joined the throng who were hanging around waiting for registration to open, for stewarding organisation and then to be summoned for dinner, meeting and catching up with old (and not so old) friends all the while. After dinner we were moved to the section of the dining hall set up as a bar so that the tables could be set for breakfast. Later in the evening Christine Davidson hosted a room party to celebrate her birthday.
Saturday is the busy day at Oxonmoot. Three full streams of programming meant that there was always something on for everyone, and that there was little time to see the art-show or sales. There was so much on, that I missed for the first time (that I can remember) the Oxonmoot quiz. Saturday lunch was as usual a buffet hosted by an important person for TS, and during this everything else stops, so after speeches and food and some catching up with the current members of the Oxford society, I had a spare hour to look round the Sales room, and talk to various people hanging around there before I had to go to the International Tolkien Fellowship meeting, where representatives of lots of Tolkien Society's around the world get together to keep each other up-to-date and to discuss any matters of importance. Finally, for the day time events, I showed up to double the number of true gentlemen who participated in Merry and Pippin's dance workshop.
For supper I tagged along with a group going to try to eat at the Bird and Baby, but it was decided that it was too far and we ended up at the Turf instead, where we ate and drank until it was time for The Party. The party contained the usual mixture of singing, drama and the Masquerade.
It was nice to see lots of new faces, as well as old (and not so old) regulars. The large enthusiastic Japanese contingent this year was particularly remarkable.
A First Timer's Report
by Melian, Greek Tolkien Society
Oxonmoot has always been described to me as one of the most important gatherings of people who are familiar with the Professor's works. Every year Oxonmoot stands out for the variety and uniqueness of the events, and everyone who has ever been there has a lot to say (in fact they don't seem to be able to stop), so this year I got really ‘wound up' with excitement and I was determined to find out about Oxonmoot for myself!
I had the pleasure, and good fortune, of attending my first Oxonmoot with many other members of the Greek Tolkien Society, both first timers (Alex Baggins and Glorfindel) and others who had been at previous Oxonmoots (Circi – head of our Society, Barahir, Lady Éowyn and Pelennor). Many of the Greek Tolkien Society members were also helping at registration or were stewards.
From the beginning the whole journey felt like “moving from one home to another”! After a fairly tiring plane flight and journey we arrived in Oxford on Friday at noon, and found our accommodation. Then we went straight to St. Hilda's and to Registration where we were given our badges. After looking around us, we immediately realised what this weekend would be like because of the warmth of our reception and how “hobbitish” the people were.
The introductions, conversations and “many meetings” of new and old friends continued late into the night at the bar, and we started to realise that people had come from far around the world to be at this gathering!
The next day (Saturday) featured a packed schedule with a variety of activities going on at the same time, making it tough to chose what to attend before and after lunch. The Quiz was really interesting, giving us the opportunity of testing our knowledge and also learning incredible details we somehow might have missed. Many interesting talks and discussions were going on in various conference rooms (a pity we couldn't attend all of them at the same time), such as Heroship in The Lord of the Rings by Maggie Fernandes, the incredible drawings of Ted Nasmith in A Year of the Silmarillion , and The Power of Females in Arda by Jean Chausse. Just before going to lunch we managed to steal some time and take a look at the gift shop which was full of interesting merchandise.
The Saturday Lunch was one of the most eagerly-awaited events, where almost all Oxonmooters get together, and we were surprised how many of us were gathered for this event. It was wonderful to see so many people from so many different places.
The most exciting event for all newcomers was meeting the guest of honour, whose warmth and agreeableness made everyone feel at ease.
After Lunch we paid a quick visit to The Eagle and Child , the famous pub where Tolkien and his friends used to go. We then returned to college where the events of the afternoon continued with various workshops (Merry and Pippin's Dance Workshop! and Zainab Thorp's Sindarin Workshop), and more talks and papers, as well as the International Tolkien Fellowship meeting.
That evening, the Saturday Night Party was really fun, with songs, sketches, a world premiere of Angie and Lyn's new “lay” and of course the Masquerade contest with beautiful and incredibly clever costumes. These included Estë the Gentle, the Elven Warrior, Bilbo wearing his ring(!), even a group of LotR characters with a Japanese guest wearing a kimono in Middle-earth, and many others. It can't be described in words or pictures, you really have to be there to see such a great gathering and such a great show of costumes!
On Sunday morning we gathered again for the final event of the weekend, the Enyalië, the annual visit and memorial which is held at the Professor's grave in Wolvercote Cemetery. After a touching speech by the Chairman of the Tolkien Society, the special moment of Namárië came. Few words can describe this moving scene when each one of those who love his work felt like addressing the Professor in the one special way that he spoke to them.
After the ceremony, Oxonmoot 2004 began to wind up and come to an end. Everyone started slowly to make their way back to the College and after many mutual promises of meeting soon in the future and next year, and taking with us the best of memories of the weekend, we parted. The rest of the day was spent doing some last-minute shopping and walking around Oxford. Eventually, we made our way to the airport for the homeward journey. We couldn't help but feel a little melancholy, but it was really worth it, meeting all the Oxonmooters, old and new, and sharing together a wonderful weekend! Until next year!